Today’s complaint alleging defamation filed at the Crime Suppression Division of the Thai police in Bangkok comes as the leader of the Future Forward Party in the House of Representatives and Chairman of the legal panel has been criticised for summoning Major General Burin Thongprapai to appear before his committee to explain last Thursday’s criminal complaint of sedition lodged in Pattani against the leader of Pheu Thai, Future Forward and academics following a discussion held in Pattani on September 28th last.

The army and the opposition parties in Thailand are squaring up to a legal battle over a panel discussion on the constitution which occurred in Pattani on September 28th last. Today in Bangkok, a number of party leaders including the leader of Pheu Thai and the Prachachart Party, the dominant political force in the southern provinces, lodged a complaint of defamation against two senior officers attached to the 4th army in the south of Thailand.

This follows a criminal complaint lodged last Thursday against the leaders of Pheu Thai, the Future Forward Party and a number of academics by Major General Burin Thongprapai attached to the 4th Region Internal Security Operations Command citing what he claimed was a violation of Section 116 of the criminal code following the political panel discussion.

Opposition party figures gave interviews outside Crime Suppression Division Police offices

The leader of Pheu Thai Sompong Amornwiwat and Prachachart leader Wan Muhamad Nor Matha together with leaders and representatives from all seven opposition alliance parties outside the CSD Police offices in Bangkok on Sunday. They filed their criminal complaint against two army officers including the leader of the 4th army in the south of Thailand and a legal affairs officer who filed a police complaint in Pattani last Thursday against opposition leaders and academics following a September 28th panel discussion in the province on the constitution.

At 2 pm on Sunday, key leaders of Thailand’s opposition alliance of 7 parties led by Pheu Thai leader Sompong Amornwiwat arrived at the headquarters of Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok to file a defamation complaint against two senior army officers assigned to the 4th Region Internal Security Operations in the south of Thailand.

Criminal complaint citing sedition lodged last Thursday by an army officer with police in Pattani

The action on Sunday stems from another criminal complaint filed by the army officer in Pattani against key opposition figures including Mr Sompong, the leader of the Future Forward Party Thahtahorn Juangroongruangkit and 10 others including academics on Thursday the 3rd October with police in Pattani.

The criminal complaint filed by the army officer related to a discussion held on September 28th in Pattani in which leading politicians and academics discussed amending the current 2017 Thai constitution in the context of particular concerns in southern Thailand.

The event itself was part of a series of events termed as ‘roadshows’ which have been running throughout September pushed by the opposition alliance in its campaign to gather support and momentum for a campaign to radically alter the 2017 charter.

Defamation complaint today cited a range of criminal code violations committed in Thursday’s complaint

The two officers cited in the criminal complaint which was filed today alleging what the opposition claims were a range of violations of the criminal code are Lieutenant General Pornsak Poonsawat, the 4th Army Commander and the Director of the 4th Regional Internal Security Command as well as a legal affairs officer at the centre of the complaint filed on October 3rd, Major General Burin Thongprapai who works at the headquarters of Internal Security Operations Command in the southern region of Thailand.

Panel on September 28th touched on Section 1 of the Thai Constitution in comments by an academic

The reason for the complaint filed on Thursday according to sources is a discussion by academics and politicians which touched on Section 1 of the Thai constitution which stipulates that Thailand is an indivisible kingdom. 

Thursday’s complaint to Pattani police by the army officer referred to comments allegedly made by Chalita Banthuwong who works at Kasetsart University, a public research university in Bangkok and the country’s third oldest. Ms Chalita is an expert in the field of social science. 

The academic suggested that an amendment to this article may be considered as part of the planned constitutional reform programme. 

Criminal complaint alleged sedition under Section 116 or the undermining of the constitution

The complaint lodged on Thursday referred to Section 116 of the Thai criminal code which prohibits activity designed to violate the constitution including violence and the incitement of such acts. It also prohibits inciting a disturbance among the populace or any breach of the criminal code itself.

Today’s complaint to the police in Bangkok takes issue with the army officer’s complaint and in turn accuses him of defamation and a violation of a range of criminal code sections including 137, 172, 174, 326 and 336.

Prachachart Party leader called last Thursday’s complaint an infringement of political rights

The leader of the Prachachart Pary which represents the southern provinces which are mainly Muslim, Wan Muhamad Nor Matha, told the media that the panel discussion held in Pattani on September 28th was held within the legal confines of constitutionally protected speech and political activities to listen to the public’s concerns in an open process and campaign to amend the constitution.

He held that the complaint instigated last Thursday had contravened the rights of those who were a party to the discussions

At the CSD police headquarters today, Mr Sompong and Mr Wan were accompanied by other party leaders and representatives from all the parties in the opposition alliance.

Future Forward co-founder criticised for summoning army officer before a House of Representatives panel

The move on Sunday came as the leader of Future Forward in the House of Representatives, Piyabutr Saengkanokkul, came under fire for summoning Major General Burin Thongpraphai to testify before a House panel on legal affairs. This committee is controlled by the Future Forward Party and Mr Piyabutr is a well known legal academic and expert at Thammasat University.

New Palang Dharma Party leader said the move amounted to interference in the officer’s duties

The criticism of Mr Piyabutr who chairs the House Panel on Law, Justice and Human Rights came from the leader of the New Palang Dharma Party, Rawee Maschamadol.

The party leader said that forcing the army officer to come before the committee to explain the reasoning behind his complaint constituted an interference in the officer’s duties as an army officer.

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